5 min read

Humanising Products in this New Remote World

The pandemic has changed the way in which individuals and businesses operate. An unprecedented crisis like COVID-19 meant that we needed to adapt, and quickly. We moved towards interacting online and working remotely to continue to be able to do our work. Today both remote working and online interaction have become the norm rather than an option. 

But this new way of working raises new and interesting questions about innovation and product design for teams and companies. With customer behaviour changing so quickly as the pandemic progresses, what kind of innovation is needed from product design?

With our lives changing so rapidly, it is important to understand how customers’ expectations have changed, and how teams can design products that focus on the perspectives of real people and their behaviour. They can then create from those insights and research. In other words, companies need to move towards a more human-centred design process. Designing products with the user at the centre means a deeper understanding of what users need, what are their roadblocks when it comes to using the products? What motivates them to buy the product? Delving into these questions, and continuously prototyping solutions and finally monitoring feedback to understand if customers are getting what they need from the product is going to lead to product teams creating products that better meet people’s needs and desires in a changing reality. 

The pandemic has changed people’s behaviour, and created new habits that will see long lasting effects. These effects will be compelling enough to get companies to create products that solve for these new concerns and repercussions of the pandemic. Technology will need to evolve to create systems mimicking human interactions, and accelerate innovation in the next four to five months. 

Moving to a remote world was a difficult transition to make. However, as we adapt, we also need to understand the key behavioural changes triggered by COVID – 19. Understanding these behavioural changes will help us deliver products while working completely remotely and not compromising on productivity and purpose. Companies will need to put an emphasis on human-centred design and help their teams achieve innovation in product design while continuing to work and collaborate from a remote work environment with one another. 

Focusing on humanising product design will improve the way in which teams connect, collaborate and deliver value to their customers.

Tips to foster productivity and collaboration while teams work remotely:

Product Delivery – To successfully deliver products on time that meet customer’s expectations while working remotely, product teams can use digital tools that enable strategic collaboration.

Product Delivery

Planning work ahead of time and working strategically to align with the company’s goals and objectives will help product teams deliver products successfully. Clearly chalking out planning sessions, where everyone from across different teams and departments can get involved and understand what product features to prioritise will help teams create a road map for product delivery.

When teams are working remotely, these planning brainstorms can be done using digital tools which can be used to map customer journey and align all decisions that teams need to take with the company’s overall goals and objectives. These tools will also help teams track their progress, ensure each development sprint is being mapped out and also manage priorities. 

Teams can use tools that are remote ready and equipped to manage digital collaboration.

Unified UX Design and Development – Creating a collaborative process using cloud based tools where technology teams and design teams work hand in hand with the client to deliver products that showcase innovation and deliver on time

In a remote working environment, it becomes essential that design teams are working hand in hand with the technical teams in iterative cycles. This will help teams deliver products that are solving the problems their end customers are facing.

For there to be constant collaboration, cloud based tools such as Figma, Adobe and InVision can prove to be very valuable. These tools will help teams work together remotely, review each other’s work as it comes to life and provide valuable feedback. Design teams will be able to change course quickly and iterate once they see the code coming to life.

Remote Testing and Research – Generating insights and feedback from users through remote testing and research

To create products that solve problems for customers, it is important to learn from them and understand their feedback throughout the design and development process. This also saves time, by helping teams know what features and updates to prioritise. 

While working remotely, teams can conduct these tests and research with various digital tools that allow them to screen participants to be a part of these sessions, and also get their consent to use the results of the session for research. 

These sessions can be either moderated where someone monitors the participants and observes them or interviews them, or unmoderated where participants are recorded while they interact and use the product or application and they answer questions about their experience.

Using these tools will help product teams generate valuable feedback that they can use for research and learn from until they can resume in person sessions.

Team Retrospects – Ensuring that the team is able to adapt to the pressures of working remotely by doing regular retrospects and reflect on their progress

Team retrospectives are essential for teams to function together seamlessly, reflect on their progress, analyse what went wrong and how they can fix it. They can come up with action points to work even better as a team. 

These are also important to ensure team members can speak honestly about any issues that might be causing them worry, like feeling burned out due to the stress of working remotely. Having a team that is able to adapt and feels productive is necessary to cultivate an atmosphere of innovation and collaboration.

Human-centred design revolves around connection 

Human-centred design revolves around connection

Fostering human connection by implementing remote tools and processes while teams work remotely is critical to achieving success. Putting the needs of your team members and your customers first will dictate how they feel, how teams work together and the product that gets delivered to the world. 

How companies use their resources – their employees, the processes they implement and digital tools they use towards solving the problems their teams and customers face will demonstrate what principles they embody and what they stand for.

In these uncertain times, it is critical that businesses take proactive decisions to accelerate digital transformation, deliver innovative products, foster creativity and collaboration by adapting to digital tools and processes and humanise their products and services in a remote world.

Published by Venky Hariharan

Lead UX Designer


Venky Hariharan Lead UX Designer